By Amy Shanahan; photo courtesy of Marti Jones
Two of Wellspring’s participants are pictured here with the new products being offered at Tony’s Market. Steve Ogno, the manager of the Castle Pines store, is crazy about the dog bones that the Best Buddies Bakery produces. “My dog Brody loves the treats and he gets at least one a day,” remarked Ogno. “It’s such a wonderful organization to be associated with.”
Our local Tony’s Market and Castle Rock Adventist Hospital (CRAH) are now partners with a wonderful organization which is dedicated to providing on-going education and opportunities for adults with special needs. During the last year, both businesses teamed up with the Best Buddies Bakery, which is a part of the work program facilitated by Wellspring Community.
Wellspring Community is a faith-based work and residential community for adults with special needs. It is a unique place where adults with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and other special needs enjoy meaningful work, on-going education, and a safe and nurturing environment.
Best Buddies Bakery was started in 2008 as an enterprise of Wellspring Community by Mary Lou and Bob Fenton, parents of an adult woman with special needs. Mary Lou began teaching her daughter and three of her daughter’s friends how to bake cookies every Thursday afternoon. The Best Buddies Bakery quickly grew as more friends wanted to join in, and the group began selling their cookies to local churches. Fast forward to today ... the full production bakery operates out of a 900-square-foot commercial kitchen in the Castle Oaks Covenant Church and the adults in the program also enjoy the use of office and classroom space for their enrichment classes.
Marti Jones is the director of business development at Wellspring and oversees the Best Buddies Bakery. Jones’ history operating bakeries allowed her to bring a new level of quality to the products and allowed the Bakery to expand its product line. Jones works daily with 35 participants who turn out delicious cupcakes, muffins, bars, cookies, breads, and even dog treats! Jones is enthusiastic about Wellspring’s mission and remarked, “We believe every individual, regardless of ability, is created with inherent worth and value. Every day we strive to live out that belief by taking the time to make the modifications and give the support necessary for our Wellspring friends to be successful.”
The Best Buddies Bakery began its relationship with Tony’s Markets in 2012, when Tony’s began carrying four flavors of the bakery’s natural dog bones. The partnership recently expanded when Tony’s began carrying sugar, all-purpose flour, and a variety of dried beans which are packaged by the bakery. “This has been a wonderful and fun project for our participants, giving them a sense of purpose,” remarked Jones. “Look for these items on an end cap at your Tony’s Market and support Wellspring!”
The bakery’s partnership with CRAH began in 2013, shortly after the hospital opened. Manna Restaurant, located inside the hospital carries the bakery’s jumbo cookies, frosted sugar cookies, assorted bars and brownies in their take-n-go store. For dinner service they feature the bakery’s cottage cheese rolls, as well as a soda cracker pie, the bacon chocolate crunch bar and the rosemary lemon bar. Additionally, Wellspring operates nine plots in the hospital’s community garden, and they recently began selling their fresh produce to Castle Rock restaurant Siena at the Courtyard, a community favorite.
Jones is grateful for the relationships with local businesses, as it further promotes the capabilities of the wonderful adults she has the pleasure to work with. “We’re giving adults with special needs the opportunity to live full and productive lives, and in the process we are changing the hearts and minds of the community around them.”